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Manipur arms villagers to take on insurgents
K Anurag in Guwahati | May 06, 2008 19:31 IST
The Manipur government has set itself on course to arm villagers as special police officers in the worst insurgency-affected pockets of the state.
The state government has constituted a selection committee comprising senior police officers to recruit special police officers from among the willing villagers.
The recruitment drive was launched amid an overwhelming response from the people in Heirok in Thoubal district on Monday and will be conducted at Lilong Chajing in Imphal West district on Wednesday.
According to the Manipur police chief, Y Joykumar, who is directly involved in the selection of SPOs, the process to arm villagers has been made under the provisions of the Indian Police Act. The SPOs will be utilised by the police to conduct search operations against insurgents. The services of the armed villagers will not be used in fighting the militants.
The SPOs will be provided with .303 rifles and sent for a one-month training programme. After the training they will be given uniforms, bikes for patrolling and ration money in addition to a monthly stipend.
The training will be held at the Manipur Police Training School, Pangei. The rules and regulations for SPOs will be different from those of the state police. They will be working under the guidance of the district superintendent of police.
The recruitment of SPOs has been started by the state government despite objections from various civil organisations like the United Committee Manipur, Apunba Lup etc who fear the move would boomerang as it has the potential to trigger mass violence instead of containing the insurgents.
Any insurgency-affected district or locality in Manipur can now approach the state government with proposal to recruit SPOs to guard themselves against insurgents.
The recruitment of the SPOs is being done under the provisions of Section (17) of the Police Act of 1861. Manipur has gone ahead with its plan to arm villagers against insurgents even as the Assam government is mulling strengthening of the village defence parties.